This map shows the various improvements proposed for Maryland Avenue in the City of Burlington this summer. The Common Council is expected to consider awarding a bid for the project at its next meeting. City of Burlington graphic

Council poised to OK plan for sidewalks, bike lanes, trail

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The Burlington Common Council will consider awarding a bid to Wanasek Corporation, of Burlington, for the 2021 Street Improvement program with Maryland Avenue reconstruction as the primary project.

Wanasek, according to Director of Public Works Peter Riggs, offered the lowest bid among four contractors who sought the project to complete Maryland Avenue at a total base bid of $1.8 million.

The Common Council was originally scheduled to make a decision on the contract March 16, but the meeting was postponed for lack of a quorum.

The council will also consider an alternate bid of $44,000 to repave the dead end of Congress Street from Maryland Avenue to the turnaround by the new kayak launch at Riverside Park.

Riggs, however, did not recommend approving the second alternate bid of repaving semi-truck parking lot next to the ChocolateFest grounds because of cost concerns at a March 2 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The total estimated cost of converting the gravel lot to asphalt parking, Riggs said, would come in around $148,000.

Instead, city officials plan to turn the gravel lot into green space because it is less costly, according to Riggs.


Full reconstruction

The Maryland Avenue project will consist of full reconstruction of about 0.4 miles of roadway and include removal and reconstruction of the road surface, base, curb, gutter and driveway aprons.

“The road has failed, it needs a full reconstruction for a variety of reasons, it does get some heavy truck traffic, it was also built on former landfill sites, or fill sites, so the base material is pretty unstable,” said Riggs.

“In addition to that, we have water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer utility needs.”

The base bid, however, does not include contingencies, if the officials encounter soil issues because of the former landfill site.

“We still have some contingencies that we need to include, again, as I mentioned, we have some soil concerns here where we are building on an old landfill site,” Riggs.

Although additional costs could crop up, the current bid award is well below the 2021 capital improvement project estimate of $2,534,400, according to Riggs.

The program’s utility work includes 1,560-feet of sanitary sewer replacement, 810-feet of a water main replacement and 650-feet of storm sewer.

Riggs wrote in a council document that replacement of service lines, manholes, inlets and other utilities are included in the program as well.

“New storm sewer service laterals will be extended to the right of way line in the southern portion of the project as a concession to property owner concerns over sump pump drain lines that currently discharge to the right of way,” he wrote, “These laterals will allow private property owners, at their discretion and expense, to connect their sump pump lines directly to the storm sewer thus allowing a way for them to continue discharge without obstructing the use of the new sidewalks.”


Pedestrian, bike upgrades

As part of the project, city officials have slated several pedestrian improvements including sidewalks on both sides of Maryland Avenue from Milwaukee Avenue to Congress Street.

The project also includes on-street painted bike lanes, a section of paved bike trail from the Hintz baseball complex, through the landfill and eventually over a private easement to connect to the existing bike trail on Maryland Avenue.

Since the project includes pedestrian improvements, the state Department of Transportation awarded $450,000 grant, which will be used to offset costs associated with construction.

“The grant application focused heavily on the impacts this project will have on the infrastructure that serves the recreation and tourism amenities in this area particularly the positive impacts of creating new pedestrian facilities and connecting existing pedestrian facilities.”


Resident concerns

While the project brings positive change, some residents came forward with concerns during a Jan. 20 virtual meeting, according to District 3 Alderman Jon E. Schultz II.

Schultz, who sat in on the meeting, noted many residents did not support portions of the project including tree removal and the addition of sidewalks in front of their homes.

“They currently do not have a sidewalk on Maryland Avenue,” he said.

“A sidewalk would be added, they objected to shoveling it, losing some of the yard area and some of the trees as well as the purpose of the bike path in that area.”

Riggs, in response, said the city plans on planting 25-30 new trees to replace trees taken out because of the project.

The city allowed residents to come forward with any additional concerns during the March 2 Committee of the Whole meeting and did not receive a response.


Alternate bids

As for alternate bids, the city decided to recommend improving the dead end on Congress Street, citing increased use of Riverside Park and deteriorating road conditions.

“There are several parking stalls at this location, even though you can’t quite tell where if you were to go down there now, because the road has severely deteriorated,” Riggs said. “This park receives a lot of use, the new kayak launch receives use, a lot of people using the bike trail are using park facilities.”

Riggs, however, did not recommend converting the gravel lot on the ChocolateFest grounds to a paved surface because of costs and the city will likely use the land for green space as part of the project’s initial design.

Riggs, noting the project’s other improvements, said the gravel lot cannot exist due to concerns of how it would affect the storm sewer system.

“Either way, it can’t continue to exist as a gravel lot because of some pretty severe storm sewer impacts and also the extension of the sidewalks through what would be a gravel parking lot,” he said.

The gravel lot on the ChocolateFest grounds serves as a parking lot for semi-truck drivers, according to Riggs, who added the city offers the space to them while they are either between trips or living in the community.

City officials distributed flyers asking truck drivers for feedback, and worked to find alternate options, according to Riggs.

“Pretty universally, these folks were glad to have this option, but kind of shrugged and admitted it is an unique offering and not many other communities are doing this,” he said.

The construction timeline, city officials said previously, could take up to seven months to complete and will start this year.